Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Get Healthy Bloghop

I was also interviewed by the lovely Ella, who wanted to feature some of my photography on the poetry site, With Real Toads. In addition, she wrote two beautiful poems to go with my images at her SITE.

Get Healthy Bloghop

Hosted by Stephen Tremp, Alex J. Cavanaugh, Michael Di Gesu, and myself.

The Objective: Share with everyone something you have done that affected your health in a positive way. You can share an awesome low cal low fat tasty recipe. Post simple tips to lose weight. Or a testimony on what has helped like joining Weight Watchers. Recommend a routine like P90X or Insanity. Or stretches one can do while sitting in their office chair working or writing. I'm sure people have countless great tips and ideas they would love to share.

Getting healthy involves a good diet and exercise. But those can’t be extremes you do for a while and then go back to your regular routine. They have to be permanent lifestyle changes.

I’m a motivational speaker, and when I talk to groups about making changes, I tell them the biggest mistake most people make is they try to change everything at once. “I’m going to work out two hours a day, seven days a week! I’m doing the liquid diet for a week and then after that, only salads and water! Carbs are evil and I’m never eating them again!”

How long will that last? A few days? A week - maybe? Not only is it difficult to
make such radical changes, it’s hard on your body. Neither your mind nor your body will want to cooperate. (And for the record, carbs are NOT evil. 75% of my diet is carbs and I’m a healthy size 2. The next person that tells me pasta and potatoes are fattening is getting pelted with said food.)

Want to change how you look and feel? (Or not end up with a big butt like Spunky the cat?) Instead of radical changes, try these small ones:

• Cut out one or two sugar drinks a day and replace with sugar-free drinks or water.

• Skip the mayo and go for the mustard.

• Use butter spray on your food instead of butter from a tub.

• Eat more vegetables - broccoli, mushrooms, cucumbers, carrots, radishes, etc. They have almost no calories.

• Eat lower fat crackers. Several brands are not only lower in calories and fat, they have only a couple ingredients and aren’t loaded with additives and preservatives.

• When baking, use applesauce in place of the oil or butter.

• Make eating out a treat rather than a daily occurrence. Most restaurant and fast food meals contain enough calories for three meals and twice your daily fat intake.

• Take a thirty-minute walk shortly after dinner - burns calories and aids digestion.

• Go play a game outside with your spouse and/or kids. (You could probably all use the exercise and fresh air.) Play Frisbee, badminton, catch, basketball, go bike riding, etc.

• Find someone else who wants to get healthy and exercise together, whether it’s running, swimming, biking, hiking, or playing on a team.

Those are just a few suggestions - what else can you think of that would be a small but significant change?

Visit other participants or join us:

Friday, May 24, 2013

Donna Hosie Reveals - How Long Does it Take to Write a Book?

Today I welcome Donna Hosie, whose third book, THE SPIRIT OF NIMUE, comes out next Friday.

“How long does it take to write a book?”

I was asked that question in the lift today at work. I’m always asked that question! It’s a question that is filed away along with “How high can my shoes get before I break my neck?” and “How much chocolate can I consume before I combust?”

An author can’t answer it, because every writer and every manuscript is different.

I started writing THE RETURN TO CAMELOT trilogy over three years ago, but at first, it was only ever a standalone novel. That first book, SEARCHING FOR ARTHUR, took 18 months to write and revise before it was ready for publication. It was a labour of love from start to finish. I started working on the sequel, THE FIRE OF MERLIN, during the revision process for book one, and although the process was easier, it still took 9 months. Ironically, working on two books simultaneously was incredibly helpful in progressing the plot, and I often found myself wondering if that was luck, or whether other writers find that?

The easiest book in the trilogy to complete was the new release, THE SPIRIT OF NIMUE. This beauty damn near wrote itself as I suffered an extreme form of word vomit! Twenty weeks and it was done.

And then I cried.

Writing THE END was a very emotional experience. One that only other writers will get. Three years it took to write these three books. In my personal timeline, in the last three years I have gone back to work after staying at home to raise my family; I have been promoted;
I have travelled to New Zealand, the UK, and the US; and I have gained a New York agent. And these accomplishments don’t include the wonderful family milestones I have had, such as seeing my daughter graduate High School, seeing my middle son grow taller than me, and seeing my youngest blossom into the funniest kid I know.

“How long does it take to write a book?”

Three years, baby. And it was worth every second.

- Donna Hoise

THE SPIRIT OF NIMUE is the conclusion of the Return to Camelot trilogy and releases May 31, 2013.

Find the first two books here:
Searching For Arthur
The Fire of Merlin

Find Donna:

Don’t forget the Get Healthy Bloghop is Wednesday, May 29th!

I was also interviewed by the lovely Ella, who wanted to feature some of my photography on the poetry site, With Real Toads. In addition, she wrote two beautiful poems to go with my images at her SITE.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Secondary Characters Blogfest

Hosted by Rachel Schieffelbein in celebration of her book, Secondary Characters, which releases on May 28th.

Sometimes secondary characters steal the show, (or the book) and become our favorites. On May 22nd we want you to tell us about your favorite secondary characters from books or movies, or both! Whether it's the funny best friend or that goofy kid next door, we want to know what secondary characters you just couldn't get enough of and why.

I will name a couple favorites.

One is Pippin from The Lord of the Rings movies.

First off, Pippin is adorable. I’ll just get that out of the way right now.

But the real reason centers more on his personality. Pippin isn’t the smartest, but he is genuine. He exudes joyful naivety and is always up for some mischief.

I just see hanging out with Pippin for the day as an adventurous and fun time.

Next is Hammy the Squirrel.

He’s dumber than Pippin but even more innocent. He’s just a bundle of nervous energy. Since I am a lot like Hammy (not dumb but sometimes na├»ve) I can really relate to him.

And it would be fun to hang with Hammy!

Last is Matt Gardner.

He was a secondary character in my own series, The Circle of Friends, and he grew on me quickly. (Eventually he became a main character in Book II.)

Matt is a good-looking football player and a ladies’ man. He’s not a cocky, malicious jerk though - Matt is all about the fun. He’s rarely serious, and this stems from issues in his past rather than insincerity. Matt has a good heart and wants to do the right thing.

His playful spirit is his charm though, and the reason I fell in love with the character.

I'm sensing a fun pattern here...

Join the fun! Who is your favorite secondary character?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Author Eric Trant - After Your Manuscript is Accepted

Today I’m welcoming friend and fellow author, Eric Trant.

His latest book, Wink, is a powerful and moving tale. Eric sent me a copy to read, and while it’s not my usual genre, the story has been riveting and my heart goes out to the main character, a boy named Marty.

Take it away, Eric!

So your book, or your short story, or your poem was accepted. Now what?

First off, I will assume you read L. Diane's Book How to Publish and Promote Your Book NOW! She tells you everything you need to know about promotion, and spends a great deal of time discussing self-publishing.

I also will assume you know how to query. If not, check out The QQQE by Matthew MacNish. I bet you already have that link, because you are a smart and astute writer, aren't you.

I will further assume you know how to seek out agents and publishers. If not, try Agent Query, and don't forget to research the publishers of your favorite authors. For instance, I found WiDo Publishing through my friend Summer Ross. So don't forget to network, and be nice to your fellow bloggers and writers.

What I want to discuss is that gray area between acceptance and publication. We skip that process in most of our writerly discussions, and yet this is the birth of your story! Your first draft is foreplay before you reach the real action. Revisions are the act of creation, those months of pounding away at your computer, sweating, grunting, suffering through fits of agony and ecstasy, those months of saying to people, "I'm trying to write a story." When that part's over, when the seed is planted -- and that's the fun part, isn't it, all those months of trying -- now comes the gestation period where you query and wait, query and wait.

Then that letter comes and your water breaks and in walks your editor to help you bring your baby into this world! But these labor pains don't last a few hours. Nope, Dear Writer, these pains last weeks and months.

Dear Editor will first say to you: "Give me a few days to read your story."

She will read it and send back her suggestions. These will consist of modifying chapter lengths, enhancing scenes, adding snappier segues, cutting or adding the book to a specified length, along with making some high-level formatting changes. No big deal.

"That was easy!" Those are your first thoughts, but this is only the initial contraction, my friend. You modify as requested, slap your hands together and do that same thing you did after the first draft, after the first and second and fifteenth revisions, after that acceptance letter and now after your editor is finished with your book. You lean back in your writer's chair, drink a beer or a glass of wine or a shot of Jack, and you tell your friends and family you're finished with your book.

Then comes the second wave of contractions. These arrive in the form of an email from Dear Editor. You open the draft to see a bloody mess of red-lettered edits, comments, and on every page and every paragraph there is something to be edited! These hurt, but you suffer through them, and at the end you do that thing again, have your drink, and you tell your friends and family that you're finished with your book.

Then comes the third wave of contractions. You suffer. You edit. After two more rounds of this Dear Editor finally says to you, "Okay, that looks good!"

You have your drink, and you tell your friends and family you're finished with your book, finally, that it is ready to be published! You cut the cord and prepare to reap the benefits of being a published author.

Then you get a note from someone claiming to be in layout. A Layout Editor? Surely they don't require edits. Do they?

Yes, they do. Amid the afterbirth of your novel with the book wailing in the background your Layout Editor asks you to modify your chapter headings. She asks that you refrain from using so much profanity. She requests that you rename a couple of characters, tone down a scene so it can be marketed as Young Adult, please rewrite your forward and afterward, and by the way, can you write the cover description? And we need a few more titles to choose from, because A Day in the Life of Someone More Interesting is too long. Can you send me an author picture? I need two, actually, and how does this cover art look?

You thought you were finished, and you're still sore and throbbing from the pain inflicted by Dear Editor, but you soldier through it, and when you receive those author copies in the mail, ten of them tightly bound and God Almighty are they beautiful! When you receive them you say to your friends and family, "There! I'm finished!"

You say that because, apparently, you did not read L. Diane Wolfe's book on promotion.

- Eric

Eric W. Trant is a published author of several short stories and the novels Out of the Great Black Nothing and Wink from WiDo Publishing, out now! Check Wink out on Amazon.

See more of Eric's work at his site, or order directly from Amazon or wherever books are sold.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Best/Worst Movie Remake Blogfest

Hosted by Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh, Stephen Tremp, Father Dragon, and Livia.

Best Remake - The Ring

I remember seeing The Ring in theaters. Not only was it scary, it was unnerving. The imagery set a creepy tone and the music got under your skin. I love a good horror film, but that one really shook me. In fact, I was shaking so much when I went into the bathroom afterwards that I dropped by cell phone in the toilet. (Yes, I saved it. The cheap thing still worked!)

Two years later we watched the original Japanese film, Ringu. Not only did it have this other weird mumbo-jumbo going on, but the woman wasn’t half as strong as Naomi Watts’ character in The Ring. For once, Hollywood did a much better job.

Worst Remake - Red Dragon

This isn’t an awful movie - it just didn’t need to be made. I’ve read the book and Manhunter did a far better job capturing the essence. It was so stylish and creepy - and it featured William Petersen. After seeing Manhunter, Red Dragon fell so short. Plus it was only made to capitalize on the success of Silence of the Lambs.

Best Song Remake - Cars, originally by Gary Numan, remade by Fear Factory. The remake and video even feature Gary Numan:

Monday, May 13, 2013

Promotion & the Awkward Girl by Hart Johnson

I'm delighted to present to you fellow born Oregonian and friend, Hart Johnson!

Promotion and the Awkward Girl

First, I want to shout out a HUGE Thank You to Diane for having me today as part of my Begonia Bribe Book Tour!

All of you who are regulars around here know Diane is FULL of fabulous promotion advice. And I ALWAYS know it is smart advice. But see... I'm awkward... and a lot of it sounds... you know... like I'd have to GET OUT THERE... TALK to people... TERRIFYING STUFF!

And I'm not at ALL going to suggest we don't push ourselves out of our comfort zones. Introverts just don't have as much of a chance of getting read unless you do something to balance those quiet tendencies.

So what's a girl to do?

FIRST: Persistence is your friend. I am a cancer (astrologically speaking) and heard the analogy that we are the sea—we reshape continents once wave at a time. So if the HUGE PUBLIC SPLASH is too much to think about, PLAN FOR a long slow burn... build your network over time with baby steps... make your relationships one on one and build them, just being your own quiet self.

I know... those of you who know me are thinking sarcastically... yeah... some shrinking violet, that one... but that leads to my SECOND POINT: Pretend you're a wild naked chick! Okay, maybe not literally. That one might be taken. But online we can try on personalities that we aren't brave enough to wear in real life.

Though I confess you might be in for some blushing when a reader says 'You're the Watery Tart!' at a book event.

Seriously though—we are writers, and if we can write the characters, we can be the characters—who do YOU want to be. Just do it!

THIRD: and this is where I contradict myself... Just a minute ago I said be who you want, and HERE, I am saying BE YOURSELF. But what I mean is let your personality shine through, your humor or your joy or your snark—whatever it is that gives you your voice and your passion. Like what you like with a vengeance.
Me and some peeps

Now is the HOW TO MIX IT UP thing: Be a GOOD friend and follower. Share a lot of what your buddies are doing. For we wilting wallflowers it is easier to share about our friends' successes than our own. Use your media: Facebook, Blog, Twitter—wherever you go, shout about your buddies.

See, THEN, when it's YOUR TURN your buddies shout about YOU and you don't HAVE TO!!!

I know there's no real substitute for really getting out there, but this feels, to me, like a manageable compromise as I learn the other stuff in baby steps.

The Begonia Bribe Blurb: Roanoke, Virginia, is home to some of the country’s most exquisite gardens, and it’s Camellia Harris’s job to promote them. But when a pint-sized beauty contest comes to town, someone decides to deliver a final judgment …

A beauty pageant for little girls—the Little Miss Begonia Pageant—has decided to hold their event in a Roanoke park. Camellia is called in to help deal with the botanical details, the cute contestants, and their catty mothers. She soon realizes that the drama onstage is nothing compared to the judges row. There’s jealousy, betrayal, and a love triangle involving local newsman—and known lothario—Telly Stevens. And a mysterious saboteur is trying to stop the pageant from happening at all.

But the drama turns deadly when Stevens is found dead, poisoned by some sort of plant. With a full flowerbed of potential suspects, Cam needs to dig through the evidence to uproot a killer with a deadly green thumb.

Hart (aka, Alyse Carlson) writes books from her bathtub and can be found at Confessions of a Watery Tart, on Facebook (author page, profile), Twitter, or Goodreads.
Book links: Amazon, Barnes and Noble
Available Now!

Jewel of Shaylar
By Laura Eno

Archaeologist David Alexander investigates the cave where his father disappeared and hurtles into another world, one filled with magic and bizarre creatures. The mad ravings in his father's journals of icemen and dragons may not be fantasies after all.
Convinced his father may still be alive, David begins a treacherous journey to find him and discover a way home. Along the way, he encounters a few unlikely friends. A Dreean warrior, a beautiful thief and a satyr join him as he searches.
David's arrival into this new world sets off an explosive chain reaction of events. Faced with powerful adversaries and few clues, he may not get the chance to rescue his father before disaster strikes, condemning both of them to death. Or worse.

Purchase Jewel of Shaylar at Kindle US, Kindle UK, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, and in paperback on Amazon US.

Find Laura here - Blog, Facebook, and Twitter

Friday, May 10, 2013

E-Book Formatting Tips

I format E-books for authors - my services are listed HERE.

Today I want to give you some tips on formatting that will not only help you do it yourself but help the person who is formatting your E-book.

When writing your manuscript, never use the TAB key to set indents. These all have to be removed during formatting, and the only way to do it is one by one. Always use the Paragraph feature to set your indents.

The Paragraph feature is your friend! You can set alignment, indents, and line spacing all in one place.

Smashwords is the pickiest of the formats. They require left justification, Times New Roman (preferably size 12 font), and no more than three spaces between lines. (Which means that is your best hope of signifying a page break.) So removing all of the tabs, uneven line spaces, and wonky formatting is a must. This includes extra spaces, both before a new paragraph and after.

And don’t panic. EVERY author has a extra space or two at the end of paragraphs. It’s just a habit to hit the space bar. (When formatting, I can tell when the author is on a roll, because those tend to vanish.)

Finally, when formatting for Amazon or Barnes and Noble, use the Section Breaks - Next Page to signify a page break. Other breaks are often not recognized. You also want to save the manuscript as a Web Page, Filtered htm or html file if you want those page breaks to appear clean.

Hope that helps! If you are still overwhelmed with formatting, drop me line. I love to format books!

Monday, May 06, 2013

Promoting Tip - Get a Little Personal

After a whole month of publishing and promoting tips almost every day, I thought I would offer something a little more fun.

Online we need to maintain a level of professionalism, whether we’re a new writer or an established author. We have to be careful how much personal information we reveal. We all have beliefs and opinions, and we need to be careful how we express them. (And we also don’t want the weirdoes showing up on our doorstep.)

However, we still need to infuse some personality into our online presence and let our readers and fans know a little about us. So, I am going to give you a little insight into Spunky’s world.

By the time I was 14, I’d set four goals for my life:
- I didn’t want to go to college
- I didn’t want kids
- I wanted to be a professional photographer
- I wanted to be a published author
(All four accomplished - time to set new ones.)

I’m a total sucker for animated films and movies about animals.

I really wish I could sing. I can hit the right pitch when playing Karaoke Revolution, but I sound awful.

My husband is smarter and better at everything than me - except math. By the time he pulls out the calculator, I already have the answer in my head.

When I develop an interest, I go all out. I don’t just love riding roller coasters - I know all the manufacturers, the parks, the record-setters, etc.

I love black & white photography. It’s easier for me to see the world in B&W than color, as I am drawn to patterns, shapes, and textures.

I’m 5’3” and 120 pounds. Clothes shopping is a pain. My husband says I need to design a line of clothing and call it “Elfin.”

My husband is the hero of my life.

And finally, I am not ashamed to say I sleep with a stuffed tiger named Eddie. He’s my little body pillow.And he's named after comedian Eddie Izzard. (Cake or death?)

What fun, personal things are you willing to share?


I’d also like to thank Heather Gardner at The Waiting is the Hardest Part for giving me the Zombie Award.

I will pass it on to my helpers, Spunky’s Soldiers: Laura Marcella, Sia McKye, Golden Eagle, Clarissa Draper, Jo Wake, Tyrean Martinson, Gwen Gardner, Ida Chiavaro, Randi Lee, and Nancy LaRhonda Johnson.

Friday, May 03, 2013

A to Z Challenge Reflections and The Spirit of Nimue

We invite all participants of the Challenge to join us!
What did you enjoy about the Challenge?
What could we do better next year?
What issues did you encounter? (Word verification, unable to comment, long posts, etc.)
Did you encounter many non-participants? (With help from our minions, we tried really hard to clean the list this year.)
Theme or no theme – what seemed to work better? Did you find any great themes?
Did you have fun and will you participate again next year?
Your Reflections can be posted anytime from May 3 through May 10. We ask you to add the link to your post, not your website, once you have posted. The Challenge hosts read every one so we know where to improve for next year.

This year’s A to Z Challenge was a lot of fun - and a lot of work.

I’m thankful I had all of my post written and pre-scheduled by the middle of March.

However this year I went into the A to Z as a co-host, which meant posting at the A to Z Blog, visiting a section of the list, and spreading the word. What felt overwhelming last year doubled for me this year.

Fortunately, I had a wonderful team of helpers, and I’d like to thank all of Spunky’s Soldiers for their efforts:

Laura Marcella
Sia McKye
Golden Eagle
Clarissa Draper
Jo Wake
Tyrean Martinson
Gwen Gardner
Ida Chiavaro
Randi Lee
Nancy LaRhonda Johnson

Without their help, there is no way I could’ve kept an eye on my sections of the list by myself.

Keeping up with comments is always my biggest challenge. I would start the morning visiting a dozen or so of my favorite people. By the time I would return in the afternoon (I’m a business owner, and that comes first) it would take me the rest of the day to catch up with comments.

I enjoyed some of the themes this year. People are just so creative! I was pleased to see people enjoying my theme. Some came for the tips, some came for the photo - either way, it’s all good.

As for next year, I’ll be back. I’m not sure I’m up to hosting again though. I may be Hammy the Squirrel hopped up on energy drinks, but I can only do so much. I’ll make my decision sometime soon.

As for everyone who visited me last month, thank you! I have a lot of new followers and will now have time to visit you.

Remember to add the link to your exact post when entering it on the list!

I’m also revealing the cover of Donna Hosie’s upcoming book.

THE SPIRIT OF NIMUE will be released on Amazon on the 31 May 2013. It is the final book in THE RETURN TO CAMELOT trilogy.

Find it here:


Wednesday, May 01, 2013

The Insecure Writer's Support Group and Get Healthy Blogfest

It’s time for another edition of The Insecure Writer’s Support Group, hosted by Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh.

The A to Z Challenge is over and I’d like to thank everyone who stopped by last month. My theme was publishing and promoting tips based on my latest book, How to Publish and Promote Your Book Now!

$14.95 Trade paperback ISBN 978-0-9827139-5-2
$4.99 Ebook ISBN 978-0-9827139-9-0

Purchase at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Amazon Kindle, Amazon Kindle UK, and Powell’s.

Through those 26 posts, I hope you found something that helped with your author journey.

Sunday our pastor talked about that big goal and dream that God placed on our hearts and told us “Go do.” And I thought back to what started me on my journey over 10 years ago:

To inspire others to achieve their dream.

I’ve done that over the years with my inspirational YA/NA series and two non-fiction books. I’ve done that as a motivational speaker and through my seminars. Sometimes I’ve lost sight of that, but I want to continue to inspire others to pursue their dreams and achieve their goals. The greatest joy is watching the spark return to someone’s eye when it hit - “Yes, I can.”

For me, it’s time to reinvent who I am, what I do as both speaker and author, and continue forth in Faith.

*Friday the Reflections List will open for those who participated in the A to Z Challenge and I will have it posted here.

Get Healthy Bloghop

Stephen Tremp, Alex J. Cavanaugh, Michael Di Gesu, and myself have teamed up for a Blog Hop that focuses on health. This is an issue with many bloggers who have expressed gaining weight over the holidays and other negative health issues that they are dealing with.

As writers, parents, lovers of a significant other, employees, and volunteers, we find ourselves overwhelmed with daily battles from this, that, and the other thing. And regardless of how fit we were at one time, time has caught up and overwhelmed many of us in the area of health.

Here is a Blog Hop that can help us make 2013 a year that we can help turn the tides!

The Objective: Share with everyone something you have done that affected your health in a positive way. You can share an awesome low cal low fat tasty recipe. Post simple tips to lose weight. Or a testimony on what has helped like joining Weight Watchers. Recommend a routine like P90X or Insanity. Or stretches one can do while sitting in their office chair working or writing. I'm sure people have countless great tips and ideas they would love to share.

Sign up below and join us on May 29: